Chicago and Nabi Saleh Honor Gaza’s Children with Mass Balloon Release – must see video

Related: Never Cast Lead Again – Memorial

On the third anniversary of Gaza Invasion, Chicago and Nabi Saleh Honor Gaza’s Children with Mass Balloon Release

CHICAGO, IL (December 31, 2011) — Over two hundred people gathered to honor Gaza’s children with a mass release of balloons marking the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s brutal military invasion of Gaza. After marching from Millennium Park to Grant Park, participants released one balloon for each of the 344 children killed during the 22-day attack on Gaza from December 27, 2008 — January 18, 2009. In a parallel event, families in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh also gathered for a balloon release. In response, the Israeli army fired tear gas and mustard gas at those who participated in the action, including children, and arrested at least seven .

The Chicago event was organized by Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights (CMPR).”We organized this event to express our grief over deaths of these children and celebrate the resilience of the people of Gaza,” said CMPR member Ishan Chakrabarti. Tied to each balloon was a card with the name and age of each child killed in the Gaza Massacre. The balloons and ribbon were 100% biodegradable and the cards were made from Lotka paper embedded with flowerseeds. “Wherever they land, these cards will plant seeds in the ground that will bloom into beautiful flowers to pay tribute to the memory of each child,” said Chakrabarti.

At the event local community members performed selections from “The Gaza Monologues,” a collection of monologues written by Palestinian children who survived Israel’s assault. Immediately before releasing the balloons, participants also observed a moment of silence.

Prior to the Chicago commemoration, the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh gathered for a parallel balloon release. The Israeli army responded to the balloon release by firing tear gas and mustard gas at participants, including children. They arrested at least seven, including two internationals. Palestinian activist Amra Amra said that during the event, “Five year old Samer asked his mom if he would be a martyr like Mustafa Tamimi.” On December 9, 2011, Mustafa Tamimi was murdered when the Israeli army shot a tear gas canister at his face. Tamimi became the first person to die while participating in Nabi Saleh’s weekly nonviolent demonstrations against Israeli annexation of their land. During these demonstrations, the Israeli often uses tear gas, mustard gas, skunk spray, and violent arrests against the participants. Of Samer’s question, Amra said, “These are not normal questions children ask their parents! Yet it is normal questions for children living under occupation.”

Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights CMPR is a diverse, youth-led movement advocating for Palestinian human rights, civil rights and equality through citywide educational events, grassroots campaigns and creative, direct action.
 Many CMPR members are involved in other Chicagoland Palestinian solidarity organizations, including several chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine.

For who does not understand the need or concept of resistance of Palestine, recommended read: History of Resistance | The Eagle of Palestine

Israel is not looking for Peace

History of Israeli Genocide

Essential Read: The Promised Land ~ by Jad KhairAllah



Martyred By Israeli Occupation Attacks

انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون

May Allah Subhana wa Ta’ ala grant the Shuhada Jannatul Firdaus, and ease it for their families, loved ones and anyone around them. Allahumma Ameen ya Rabbil Alameen. ‘ Inna Lillahi wa ‘ Inna ‘ Ilayhi Raji’un, Allahu Akbar


* The list of shuhada does not display, the numerous victims of the zionist occupation which are undocumented by media. Nor it displays the victims of the “silent onslaught” due to restrictions of movement, ability to go to hospitals for treatment or life saving surgery, due to lack of medication because of the blockades and so on. For example: The Slow Motion Genocide by the Siege on Gaza only, killed 600 patients since Gaza got under Israeli Siege.

For an overview of All Israeli Massacres Palestinians go here

Neither does this list, display the avoidable mortality. A clear and statistical factual evidence, about the number of deaths due to indecent ruling by occupation forces. For even an occupier has obligations under International Laws, Geneva Convention and the Hague regulations, which it is neglecting. These circumstances, together with deliberate policies of the occupier to neglect and even deny every basic human right, severes avoidable mortality which is totally silenced by media or reporting organisations. While in the Holocaust, 1 on 6 Jewish people directly died of deliberate neglect, so if we believe the facts over 1 million due to avoidable mortality, neither should these same circumstances be ignores which are ongoing in Palestine. For this report displays a avoidable morality of at least 0,5 million Palestinians.

How many more dead corpses of Palestinians does the international community need to see in order to act? How many more cruelties and violations of Human Rights, Regulations and International Law will be needed to intervene so this ongoing warcrime is being stopped once and for all.

Gaza still suffers from Israel’s 22-day war Cast Lead – video

Gaza Under Attack Timeline | In pictures Aug-Sept 2011 | Oct-Nov 2011 | Dec 2011

Ashraf Shannon, Press TV, Gaza

Almost three years have passed since Israel waged an all out war against the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Although the onslaught has faded from the headlines, its victims continue to suffer physically and psychologically.

In a three-week invasion, which started on December 27, 2008, nearly 1400 Gazans were killed and thousands of others injured.

About 21 thousand homes were destroyed by Israeli tanks and fighter jets. Israel claimed it went to war to stop the rocket fire from Gaza.

International activists had this to say about the situation in Gaza…..

Experts say children in particular suffered greatly from anxiety and depression after the Gaza War, known as Operation Cast Lead.

Human rights groups have often accused Israel of violating every single international convention governing the rules of war and the treatment of civilians.

Almost three years after Israel waged a war on Gaza victims say they are still traumatized by what Israeli forces put them through during 22 days of war.

Source and more at Gaza TV News

More info about the war can be found at Never Cast Lead Again

For who does not understand the need or concept of resistance of Palestine, recommended read: History of Resistance | The Eagle of Palestine

Israel is not looking for Peace

History of Israeli Genocide

Essential Read: The Promised Land ~ by Jad KhairAllah



Martyred By Israeli Occupation Attacks

انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون

May Allah Subhana wa Ta’ ala grant the Shuhada Jannatul Firdaus, and ease it for their families, loved ones and anyone around them. Allahumma Ameen ya Rabbil Alameen. ‘ Inna Lillahi wa ‘ Inna ‘ Ilayhi Raji’un, Allahu Akbar


* The list of shuhada does not display, the numerous victims of the zionist occupation which are undocumented by media. Nor it displays the victims of the “silent onslaught” due to restrictions of movement, ability to go to hospitals for treatment or life saving surgery, due to lack of medication because of the blockades and so on. For example: The Slow Motion Genocide by the Siege on Gaza only, killed 600 patients since Gaza got under Israeli Siege.

For an overview of All Israeli Massacres Palestinians go here

Neither does this list, display the avoidable mortality. A clear and statistical factual evidence, about the number of deaths due to indecent ruling by occupation forces. For even an occupier has obligations under International Laws, Geneva Convention and the Hague regulations, which it is neglecting. These circumstances, together with deliberate policies of the occupier to neglect and even deny every basic human right, severes avoidable mortality which is totally silenced by media or reporting organisations. While in the Holocaust, 1 on 6 Jewish people directly died of deliberate neglect, so if we believe the facts over 1 million due to avoidable mortality, neither should these same circumstances be ignores which are ongoing in Palestine. For this report displays a avoidable morality of at least 0,5 million Palestinians.

How many more dead corpses of Palestinians does the international community need to see in order to act? How many more cruelties and violations of Human Rights, Regulations and International Law will be needed to intervene so this ongoing warcrime is being stopped once and for all.

WHITE WASH WATCH | Goldstone’s Reconciderations on the Gaza Cast Lead Report


Current hasbara influenced media and kept backwards media outside the occupied terrritories almost are vomiting their propaganda for the next whitewash of Israel’s genocide on Gaza. Below this post continuous updates of (unbiased) news will be published.

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
~Adolph Hitler

Israel is using it’s hasbara (again) to make us and media believe, no warcrimes were committed during Operation “Cast Lead” on Gaza which took place from 27 December 2008 until 18 January 2009. The current status quo since Judge Goldstone reconsidered his earlier “findings” in the self investigation of Israel’s acts during the war on Gaza is the reason IOA recently even had the courage to call on the United Nations to withdraw the whole report.

With utmost shameless courage Israels Foreign Minister Lieberman from Moldavia, like Goldstone zionist himself stated it was no surprise for him Goldstone retracted his earlier statements, as for even Bibi and himself had exerted great efforts to achieve the same before… (even without us noticing of course)

Here the Hitler quote falls in place: “Make the Lie big, make it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.”

In one line, the most catching description for the propaganda (in hebrew called Hasbara) of IOA, whitewashing every crime they commit or ever have been committing before. If this “tactic” does not work, everyone falls in state of denial again but never ever it has lead to a conviction of the zionist entity or the people ordering and forfilling the ongoing massacres on Palestinian people. The Nakba. 63 Year ethnic cleansing and IOA’s hasbara keeps the world stupid and backwards.

As soon as reports like Goldstone’s hit the media, and his remarks of “never mind…” hit some journalists using their own minds and opinion, IOA is twisting it’s behind like never before. Eternally victimized by their Holocaust, it seems it gives them the right to get away with every crime, oppression, assassination, expulsions, evictions, ethnic cleansing and plain massacres.

Zionist, have become, exactly and even worse like those, they once feared and hated themselves.

Needless to say this was not the first massacre since IOA announced it’s own statehood.
Click here for an overview of All Israeli Massacres on Palestinians.

Recapulating the Cast Lead Massacre
Over 1,400 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were killed during 22 days of Israeli shelling from sea, air and land. Palestinians in Gaza had nowhere to flee from Israel’s onslaught as the border has been closed for two years, with disastrous consequences for the 1.5 million in habitants of Gaza — the majority of them children and refugees.

In this time, IOA used indiscriminate force and violence, even made use of forbidden chemical weapons like white Phosphorus, DIME, depleted uranium and more. But still, IOA wants us to believe there was no crime committed at all. I regard this as an insult of our intelligence, but formost an magnum opus of denial of the crimes on Palestinians, the massacred and their loved ones who where left behind.

The ongoing Siege on Gaza already made it to the largest open air prison in the world, but the weapons used on the people of Gaza made it also the largest gas chamber in history. Even now – and probably long lasting and continuing – effects on all kinds of health, of born and even unborn life are horrendous. Birth defects, massive increase of diseases like cancer and more.

Not to be forgotten: The thousands of injured, handicapped, eye- arm- or legless Palestinian people who were mutilated for life…physically as well as mentally. The children, traumatized for life. But IOA committed no crime.

This is an appeal from occupiedpalestine, to use your common sense and mind to behold the facts and judge for yourself, for it is clear judge Goldstone and companions do not want you and us to believe the reality. And as long as IOA’s warcrimes stay unpunished, the zionist modus operandi of ethnic cleansing in any way possible will continue and increase. It not has been enough it has been to much already too long.

Palestine is not waiting to be the next to hear the world says again:Wir haben es nicht gewußt…




Goldstone’s Backtrack: Some points to remember

by Tom Pessah on April 2, 2011 | Mondoweiss

Justice Goldstone, author of the famous report on the 2009 attack on Gaza, published an op-ed today in which he seemed to be retracting some of his claims. He wrote that “while the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy”

This claim was immediately picked up by Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who sees it as making it “clear that IDF is a moral army.”

It is important to respond to these claims for several reasons: because they are false and misleading, and because they serve to buttress many Israelis’ self-image of being morally superior to Palestinians, since all Israeli violence towards civilians is supposedly accidental. Portraying such attacks as accidental is also linked to seeing them as inevitable, and therefore justified – which means they can happen again.

Mondoweiss’ Adam Horowitz has already responded to this, but here are some more points to keep in mind in regard to the 2009 Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

1. They were very well documented by a variety of sources. Human Rights Watch wrote that “First, the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus in populated areas until the last days of the operation reveals a pattern or policy of conduct rather than incidental or accidental usage. Second, the IDF was well aware of the effects of white phosphorus and the dangers it poses to civilians. Third, the IDF failed to use safer available alternatives for smokescreens.”

Breaking the Silence testimonies show that “Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad. The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. You see a house, a window, shoot at the window. You don’t see a terrorist there? Fire at the window. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and others, collected many testimonies of attacks on civilians. For example:

The al-Helu family had been told to evacuate their house in Zaytoun, eastern Gaza, but while they were attempting to flee, Israeli soldiers opened fire on them. Farah was shot in the stomach and bled to death two hours later

2. As Adam wrote:

The U.N. committee of independent experts (led by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis) which was charged with following the Israeli and Palestinian investigations following the Goldstone report […] point to Israel’s unwillingness, and in fact inability, to investigate the policies of the Israeli military as the greatest fault of the Israeli investigation to this point… The experts’ report also addresses the structural reason the Israeli investigation has failed to look into military policy. Evidently the Israeli office responsible for investigating the question of crimes committed in Gaza is the same office that would be responsible for providing legal counsel to the Israeli military’s Chief of Staff and other military authorities. So basically, office that would accusing the military of committing crimes is the same one that would be defending them from the same charges.

As a result, few officers have been charged in relation to crimes committed. An internal IDF investigation found two officers responsible for dropping phosphorus bombs on civilians, and all they got was a little reprimand in their personal files.

On the other hand, an anti-war activist was given three months in jail for riding his bicycle too slowly at a protest.

3. The claim that there was no policy behind this stems from a poor understanding of civilian-military relations in Israel. The details of policy are often not set by the government, but they give army officers leeway to set these policies, and then don’t take any significant steps to punish them for causing human rights violations. For example, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was supposed to end, according to the government’s decision, 40 kilometers north of the border. The army initiated a full invasion, and no one was ever reprimanded for this discrepancy. In 2000, some government ministers wanted to limit the use of force against Palestinian protestors at the beginning of the second Intifada, while the army shot an estimated million bullets (as can be seen in the excellent Israeli documentary “a Million Bullets in October,” available on Youtube). In 2006 the Chief of Staff asked the government for permission to attack Lebanese infrastructure and was refused (see Shelah’s and Limor’s book on that war)- but infrastructure was attacked nonetheless. And so it was in Gaza: as I mentioned an internal IDF investigation found two officers responsible for dropping phosphorus bombs on civilians, and all they got was a little reprimand in their personal files.

The background for such actions was ongoing incitement to attack civilians – Deputy Defense secretary Vilnai’s threat to bring a “Shoah” on Gaza or the hate leaflets distributed to soldiers entering the Strip – and many more examples.

4. It is true that the army is taking criticism of its actions more seriously than after the attack on Lebanon in 2006. This can only be explained as a direct result of international pressure, which hopefully could prevent some loss of civilian life in the future. In other words, instead of praising the army’s liberality, Goldstone should be praising the international community of activists for successfully putting pressure on the army to investigate its own actions..

5. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe the hype.

Tom Pessah is a graduate sociology student at UC Berkeley.




Israel demands retraction of UN Gaza war criticism

Three siblings from the Al-Samouni family. Goldstone's report said Israeli forces "killed 23 members of the extended Al-Samouni family" in one day of its devastating Cast Lead offensive on the coastal enclave

April 3, 2011

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel on Sunday demanded the retraction of a United Nations report deeply critical of its deadly 2008-2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip after the main author expressed regret over the conclusions.

South African judge Richard Goldstone had faced down enormous criticism in Israel at the time, much of it targeting his own Jewish ancestry, over the report which accused both Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza of potential war crimes during the 22-day conflict.

But in a surprise about turn on Saturday, he said his conclusions would have been different if he had been aware of additional information now brought to his attention.

“If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” he wrote in a commentary piece in the Washington Post.

The report’s findings had set the tone for widespread international condemnation of the Israeli assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza in which more than 1,400 people lost their lives, the vast majority of them Palestinians.

Israeli officials said the United Nations now needed to set the record straight.

“This is an extremely important development and right now we are multiplying our efforts to get this report rescinded,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told army radio on Sunday.

“I am going to give the issue my personal commitment,” Barak said, adding that he deeply regretted the “harm already done” by the Goldstone report.

He was echoing remarks made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late on Saturday.

“Goldstone himself has just confirmed what we all knew all along… I think our soldiers and army behaved according to the highest international standards,” the premier said during a brief televised address.

“We expect this farce to be rectified immediately.”

Netanyahu once again rejected the findings of the Goldstone Report, which came up with evidence of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by both Israel and Hamas for targeting civilians.

The Israeli military did not deliberately target civilians during Operation Cast Lead, Netanyahu said, while Hamas fired at innocent civilians and did not conduct investigations.

The prime minister said the fact that long-time Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi — now facing an uprising in his country — was on the UN Human Rights Council that commissioned the report, made the findings especially dubious.

“There is no greater absurdity,” he said.

In his opinion piece in the Post, Goldstone said he now concurred with Netanyahu that the council had a “history of bias against Israel”.

“We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission,” Goldstone wrote.

A UN committee of independent experts that followed up on the Goldstone Report’s recommendations found that Israel “has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza.”

In contrast, Hamas leaders “have not conducted any investigations” into the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel that were its grounds for going to war.

Allegations of intentionality by Israel in turn were based on the death and wounding of civilians in situations where the UN fact-finding mission could not reach “any other reasonable conclusion,” Goldstone said.

He acknowledged that while some incidents were validated in cases involving individual soldiers, Israeli investigations found that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

Goldstone recalled one of the most serious incidents his team investigated — without Israel’s cooperation due to its allegations that the investigators were biased — when Israeli shelling of a Gaza home killed 29 members of the Al-Samouni family.

He noted that Israel’s investigation into the incident found the attack was apparently due to an Israeli commander’s misinterpretation of a drone image and that an officer was under investigation for having ordered the shelling.

“I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes,” Goldstone wrote.



Spread for the sake of the Martyrs of this genocide!

Israeli minister, media perpetuate lie about Goldstone’s Gaza report

Eli Yishai, Israel’s lethally incompetent Interior Minister, is outraged that Judge Richard Goldstone, who headed the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza war, has not condemned attacks on Israeli civilians. According to Ynet, Yishai sent a letter to Goldstone in which he “demanded of Goldstone to condemn the firing from Gaza as he did with IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.”

The idea that Goldstone did not condemn the firing of rockets from Gaza is one of the oft-repeated lies about his report. Look, the document is posted on the World Wide Web. It is pretty long, so let me spoil it for you. On page 32, it states, regarding the rockets and mortars fired from Gaza:

The Mission has further determined that these attacks constitute indiscriminate attacks upon the civilian population of southern Israel and that, where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into a civilian population, they constitute a deliberate attack against a civilian population. These acts would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity. Given the seeming inability of the Palestinian armed groups to direct the rockets and mortars towards specific targets and given that the attacks have caused very little damage to Israeli military assets, the Mission finds that there is significant evidence to suggest that one of the primary purposes of the rocket and mortar attacks is to spread terror among the Israeli civilian population, a violation of international law.

… Noting that some of the Palestinian armed groups, among them Hamas, have publicly expressed their intention to target civilians in reprisal for the civilian fatalities in Gaza as a result of Israeli military operations, the Mission is of the view that reprisals against civilians in armed hostilities are contrary to international humanitarian law.

Goldstone, like everyone else, is not above criticism. But the accusation that he did not condemn attacks on Israeli civilians is an outrageous lie. By reporting these accusations, without pointing to their utter, demonstrable falseness, Israeli media is a collaborator in this libel (no, not a “blood libel”, but still, a pretty nasty libel).


Gaza Again Under Israeli Attacks

Due to increased violent and deadly Israeli attacks on Gaza below an overview of updates with related news which will be continuously updated.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

GAZA ATTACK March 22, 2011

Overview of Related News:
Live Updates P1:
Live Updates P2:
Live Updates P3:

GAZA ATTACK March 21, 2011

Live Updates P1:
Live Updates P2:
Live Updates P3:
Live Updates P4:


Confirmed Names of Martyrs

(List only displays the martyred since March 16, 2011 for a complete overview of this years shuhada go here)

Mohammed Jihad al-Halw, 11 years old, killed on March 22, 2011
Yasser Ahed al-Halw, 16 years old , killed on March 22, 2011
Yasser Hamed al-Halw, 50 years old, killed on March 22, 2011
Mohammed Saber Harara, 20 years old, killed on March 22, 2011
Adham Al-Hazareen, , killed on March 22, 2011
Sa’dy Halas, 23 years old , killed on March 22, 2011
Muhammad Atyeh Al-Harazeen, 27 years old, killed on March 22, 2011
Muhammad Abed, 31 years old, , killed on March 22, 2011
Mustapha Ahmad Sehwel, 5 years old, died 10 days after attack on on March 21, 2011
Imad Faraj Allah, 16 years old, died on March 20, 2011
Qasem Abu Eteiwi, 16 years old, died on March 20, 2011
Ghassan Fathi Abu Omar, 25, years old, died on March 16, 2011
Adnan Yousef Eshtewy, 23 years old, died on March 16, 2011



By Israeli Attacks March 2011 martyred Palestinians

انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون

May Allah Subhana wa Ta’ ala grant the Shuhada Jannatul Firdaus, and ease it for their families, loved ones and anyone around them. Allahumma Ameen ya Rabbil Alameen. ‘ Inna Lillahi wa ‘ Inna ‘ Ilayhi Raji’un, Allahu Akbar


Hanukkah in March: Light a Candle for Gaza | Shalom Rav


Last December, on the third anniversary of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, Rabbi Alissa Wise and I submitted an article to the Washington Post in which we asked the public to mark this occasion by lighting a Hanukkah candle for Gaza. The piece was edited further and we were told that it would run in WaPo’s online “On Faith” section.

At the eleventh hour, one day before our piece was to run, we were asked to make some more substantive edits in ways that would have significantly altered the message of the article. Unlike the earlier changes, these weren’t editorial tweaks – they contained several all too familiar pro-Cast Lead talking points.

Alissa and I rejected the last minute demands, and offered even more links to substantiate our claims. In the meantime, Hanukkah came and went and ultimately the piece never ran.

Fast forward to last week: blogger Phil Weiss had learned about the whole sad story and wrote a short post about it on Mondoweiss. After reading it, I got in touch with him and gave him the full background. M’weiss posted the complete story today, complete with the text of WaPo’s censored version.

So click below to read the article that never saw the light of day. Not seasonally appropriate any more, but still sadly relevant.

Light a Candle for Gaza
By Rabbi Brant Rosen and Rabbi Alissa Wise

On the morning of December 27, 2008, the sixth day of Hanukkah, Israel initiated a massive military assault against Gaza with “Operation Cast Lead.” The name of the operation was a reference to a popular Hanukkah song written by the venerated Israeli poet Chaim Nachman Bialik: “My teacher gave a dreidel to me/A dreidel of cast lead.”

When Israel’s military actions ended on January 18, some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed. Among the dead were hundreds of unarmed civilians, including over 300 children.

Personal testimonies from the Palestinians who lived through Cast Lead in Gaza indicate the profoundly tragic consequences of Israel’s military assault. Here is one such account – excerpted from Amnesty International’s 2009 Report, “Operation Cast Lead: 22 Days of Death and Destruction”:

After Sabah’s house was shelled I ran over there. She was on fire and was holding her baby girl Shahed, who was completely burned. Her husband and some of the children were dead and others were burning. Ambulances could not come because the area was surrounded by the Israeli army.

We put some of the injured in a wagon tied to the tractor to take them to hospital. My nephew Muhammad (Sabah’s son) picked up his wife, Ghada, who was burning all over her body, and I took her little girl, Farah, who was also on fire. My nephew Muhammad-Hikmat drove the tractor and my son Matar and my nephews ‘Omar and ‘Ali also came with us and took the body of baby Shahed and two other bodies. Sabah and the other wounded were put into a car; other relatives were also leaving. We drove toward the nearest hospital, Kamal
‘Adwan hospital.

As we got near the school, on the way to al-‘Atatrah Square we saw Israeli soldiers and stopped, and suddenly, the soldiers shot at us. My son Matar and Muhammad- Hikmat were killed. The soldiers made us get out of the wagon. I ran away with ‘Ali and ‘Omar, who had also been shot and were injured. Muhammad, Ghada and Farah were allowed to go on but only on foot and the soldiers did not allow them to take the dead.

This Hanukkah, how will we Jews choose to commemorate a legacy such as this? Many of us will invariably retreat behind a veil of defensiveness, claiming Israel’s action was an appropriate, commensurate response to the threat posed by Hamas. Some of us might be troubled, but choose to look away from the hard and painful reality of this bloodshed. Still others may simply allow Gaza to become subsumed by the sheer volume of world crises that seem to call out for our attention.

This Hanukkah, however, we are asking the Jewish community to light a candle for Gaza.

After all, this is the season in which we rededicate our determination to create light amidst the darkness. And quite frankly, the time is long overdue for the American Jewish community to shine a light on the dark truth of “Operation Cast Lead.”

Indeed, we have been deeply complicit in keeping this truth away from the light of day. Two years later, Israel still refuses to conduct a credible, transparent and independent investigation of its actions in Gaza. The sole attempt at such a proper investigation, the Goldstone Report, was successfully blackballed and eventually quashed under a campaign spearheaded by the Israeli and the US governments – and largely supported by the American Jewish establishment.

This Hanukkah, we would also do well to shine a light on the larger context of the reality in Gaza. We cannot forget that Israel’s military assault occurred in the midst of a crushing blockade that Israel has imposed upon Gaza since January 2006.

As a result of this collective punishment:

– 80% of the Gazan population is dependent on international aid.

– 61% of the population is food insecure.

– The unemployment rate is approximately 39%, one of the highest in the world.

– Power outages usually last 4-6 hours a day and often longer.

– 60% of the population receives running water only once every 4 or 5 days, for 6-8 hours.

– 50 to 80 million liters of untreated or partially treated sewage are released into the sea every day.

– Approximately 90% of water supplied to Gaza residents is not suitable for drinking and is contaminated with salt and nitrates.

– 78% of homes with major damages from Operation Cast Lead have not been rebuilt.

Despite Israel’s claims to the contrary, its blockade remains very much in force. According to highly detailed research conducted by the Israeli NGO Gisha, Israel consistently lets through less than half of the required truckloads of essential goods mandated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Just weeks ago, European Union foreign policy chief Lady Catherine Ashton, speaking on behalf of all EU foreign ministers commented, “At the present time, we think that what’s happened with Gaza is unsatisfactory, the volume of goods is not increasing as significantly as it needs to.”

The most tangible way we can light a candle for Gaza is to support those who refuse to allow this crisis to remain the darkness. The most courageous example: the movement of civilian flotillas that seek to break the blockade with symbolic humanitarian cargo. The most recent flotilla tragically gained international attention last May when the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara was seized by Israeli commandos in a raid that left eight unarmed Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American citizen dead. (A recent report on the assault by a UN fact-finding mission said Israeli soldiers used “lethal force” in a “widespread and arbitrary manner, which caused an unnecessarily large number of persons to be killed or seriously injured,” and “carried out extralegal, arbitrary and summary executions prohibited by international human rights law.”)

Despite this tragedy (or perhaps because of it), the flotilla movement is growing steadily. Here in the US, a group of peace activists is seeking to add the first American boat, “The Audacity of Hope,” which they intend to launch next spring as part of an international flotilla from over a dozen European, Asian and North American countries.

The US Boat to Gaza organizing statement asserts:

“The Audacity of Hope” will be a passenger ship with approximately 40-60 Americans on board including a 4-5 member crew and a small number of press and media professionals. We will not carry more than symbolic cargo: just as the students who sat in at Woolworth counters in the 1960s were not doing so because they wanted lunch, our voyage will be an act of civil disobedience and non-violent challenge to an illegal blockade rather than a mission to import humanitarian cargo. By the same token, one of our objectives will be to transport two Gazan graduate students who have been invited to visit and speak at a US university, but who have been prevented from leaving Gaza by the Israeli and Egyptian governments. Additionally, we plan to bring out Gazan products, which “Stand for Justice” is purchasing from a Gazan company.

For those who seek justice in Gaza, the courageous activists who are willing to put their own bodies on the line are immensely deserving of our support.

On Hanukkah, the festival that enshrines the ongoing human struggle for freedom, the season that seeks to shed light on the dark places of our world, it is time for us to stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed.

It is time for us to light a candle for Gaza.

Hanukkah in March: Light a Candle for Gaza | Shalom Rav.

What Really Happened In Gaza? Book Review

17:13 02/26/2011
What Really Happened In Gaza? – Book Review

The book does little to legitimize an Israeli perspective.By Ira Glunts

(The Goldstone Report: The Legacy Of The Landmark Investigation Of The Gaza Conflict edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and Philip Weiss; foreword by Desmond Tutu, introduction by Naomi Klein, Nation Books, 2011.  449 pp., $18.95. paperback.)

The Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 and the subsequent investigation and unequivocal condemnation by a United Nations team led by Judge Richard Goldstone of Israeli conduct before and during what the Jewish State calls “Operation Cast Lead,” have radically altered the way many view Israel’s brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.  Gaza and Goldstone have also caused many to question the 18 year-old US-sponsored Israeli/Palestinian “peace-process” which never produces any positive results.

Here in Central New York, some local activists in the Syracuse Peace Council started the group Central New York Working For A Just Peace In Palestine & Israel as a direct result of the invasion of Gaza. In February, the Judaic Studies Program at Syracuse University hosted journalist Peter Beinart, a self-identified liberal Zionist, who has recently signed a public letter urging President Obama to support a United Nations resolution condemning the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (The US vetoed the resolution.) Neither Beinart’s willingness to sign this letter, nor an invitation extended by the Judaic Studies Program to someone expressing these views, would have been conceivable before the Gaza invasion.

The Goldstone Report: The Legacy Of The Landmark Investigation Of The Gaza Conflict is invaluable in assessing what really happened in Gaza. It presents an abridged version (327 pp.) of the “Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission On the Gaza Conflict (September, 2009),” with 11 insightful essays which explore the Goldstone document from progressive legal, historical, and political, as well as personal perspectives. This version also intersperses witness testimonies which were published by the Mission, but not included in the original report. (Full disclosure: I am a contributor to which is edited by Weiss and Horowitz.)

The stark fact is that the Israeli army killed over 1,400 people during the Gaza invasion. This is as opposed to 13 Israeli fatalities, some of which were Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers killed by “friendly fire.” Of the 1,400 fatalities, over 80% were civilians. Approximately 5,300 Gazans were injured, including 2,400 women and children; 2,114 houses were destroyed, with an additional 3,400 houses rendered uninhabitable. The three-week Israeli assault resulted in over 51,000 displaced persons. Among the IDF’s targets were mosques, hospitals, private residences, a chicken farm, a sewage treatment plant, and a United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) field office compound, which was sheltering 600 to 700 civilians. According to Goldstone, there was no military advantage gained by any of these attacks.

The Mission employed testimonies of Gazans, as well as on-site inspections in order to document its findings. Although the Israeli government refused to cooperate, and vehemently tried to prevent their citizens and soldiers from doing so, the Mission did interview Israelis outside of Israel and employed public testimony from the so-called “Soldiers’ Forum” at Israel’s Oranim military academy, as well as reports from the dissident soldiers’ group “Breaking the Silence.” The report contains statements made by Israeli officials, which were widely quoted in the Israeli and foreign press, that Israel’s declared aim was to punish the civilian population. The document also includes justifications made by Israeli officials, reported in the press for specific Israeli military actions.  Most of these were shown to be inaccurate, many purposefully so.

A Tzipi Livni quote illustrates the IDF intent to violate international norms of military conduct. Livni, who was the Israeli Foreign Minister during Operation Cast Lead, said, “Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.” The Israeli “wildness” violated the laws of war, including: use of human shields, capricious home invasions, illegal detention of civilians including elected officials, massive wanton destruction of personal property and of infrastructure, and killing of unarmed and non-threatening civilians.

The Goldstone Mission concluded that Operation Cast Lead “was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.” Targeting a civilian population clearly violates international humanitarian law. The Mission also concluded, as did many who read the Israeli press before and during the three-week Israeli assault, that one purpose of the attack was to punish Gazans for voting for Hamas in the free democratic election of 2006.

The Goldstone Report not only addresses the Gaza invasion, but seeks to place it in the context of the ongoing struggle between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbors. In describing this history, the report harshly criticizes the Israelis for, among other things, the 8,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel from the occupied territories (a violation of international human rights law), the restriction of movement (between Gaza and the West Bank and within each territory), the suppression of legitimate dissent in the occupied territories, and the blockade of Gaza. It also condemns Israel for its settlements on conquered land, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Judaization of East Jerusalem, and construction and maintenance of the separation wall, which has been ruled illegal by the World Court. And all that is not even to mention the illegitimate and disproportionate use of force during the 2006 Lebanon War. This is hardly the portrayal of an enlightened Western democracy. And it is a characterization of Israel which is all the more shocking for many because it came from Richard Goldstone.

Judge Richard Goldstone is a nightmare for the Israeli and US pro-Israel spin doctors. He is an internationally-recognized jurist with extensive experience in redressing the injustices of apartheid in his native South Africa. He is not only Jewish, but is a self-identified Zionist, and was an honorary member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew University for ten years. His daughter immigrated to Israel where she now lives. This made it difficult to dismiss Goldstone as an anti-Semite from a United Nations whose moral and legal authority Israel has always ignored, with the aid of the United States veto. However, this did not stop the Israelis and their US supporters from smearing the judge.

Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School called Goldstone “an evil man” and “a traitor to the Jews.” The usual charges of “self-hating Jew” echoed loudly in the Israeli and US media. On November 3, 2009 the US House of Representatives voted 344 to 36 for House Resolution 867, which called the Goldstone Report, “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” The Obama administration, not known for great courage in its foreign policy decisions, has danced to the tune of what some euphemistically call “certain political interests.” In so doing, the US has followed the advice of the House resolution and blocked any further consideration of the Goldstone Report at the United Nations.

Judge Goldstone has invited “fair minded people” to read the report and “point out where it failed to be objective or even-handed.” Neither the Congress nor the Obama Administration has done so. The US mainstream media has all but shut the door on criticism of Israeli conduct during the Gaza invasion. But despite the dismissive response to the Goldstone Report and to the critics of the Gaza invasion, both the report and the invasion have resulted in increased public opposition to US policy regarding Israel. The US pro-Israel camp, alarmed by this new reality, has inaccurately labeled it “a campaign of delegitimization of Israel.”

The essays contained in the Goldstone Report do little to legitimize an Israeli perspective. Jerome Slater criticizes Goldstone’s position that Israel’s war in Gaza could be justified by the claim of self-defense. He writes that “when illegitimate and violent repression engenders resistance” then the claim of self-defense is invalid. Brian Baird, an ex-Congressman, details the degree to which his House colleagues passionately spoke in defense of Israel while demonstrating their almost complete lack of knowledge of the facts.  All his attempts to educate them met with indifference — caused by the giant shadow of the pro-Israel lobby.

The final word is given to Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian journalist and blogger. She spent Operation Cast Lead in North Carolina connected via Skype and email to her father, who was under siege in his home in Gaza City. She details his messages of fright, courage, and despair, followed by relief and muted hope. These thoughts given from father to daughter provide the reader with a visceral understanding of the terror and horror visited on Gazans during the invasion, a horror which is impossible to transmit through a United Nations document. Sadly and soberingly, El-Haddad tells us that for now, for the people of Gaza, the Goldstone Report is just “ink on paper,” since it has not led to any improvement in their lives.

The presentation of the Goldstone Report and the accompanying materials contained in the volume are valuable because they make this extraordinary document accessible to those who might normally be reluctant to read it in its entirety on the United Nations web site. The book is especially recommended to those liberals who still check their progressivism at the gate before entering the portal of Palestine. What they read here just may shake some of their deeply-held beliefs.

(An earlier version of this book review appeared in the Syracuse Peace Council’s Peace Newsletter; March, 2011, PNL #802.)

– Ira Glunts is a Jewish-American who as an English teacher living in southern Israel boarded an Israeli intercity bus and traveled to Gaza City in 1972. He spent the summer of 1992 as a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces. Currently, Mr. Glunts is a critic of Israeli policy and the Jewish-American establishment which supports it, and a member of Central New York Working For A Just Peace in Palestine & Israel. He contributed this article to
What Really Happened In Gaza? – Book Review.

Gaza in Crisis – Book Review

13:26 02/16/2011

Gaza in Crisis: clear information and insights.

By Jim Miles 

(Gaza in Crisis – Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians. Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe. Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2010.)

When two of the most informed academics in the world collaborate on a project, the reader expects to have clear information and insights into the topic at hand. Chomsky and Pappe provide just that with their new short work “Gaza in Crisis.” Focused on Gaza, the discussion necessitates a background discussion on events that have brought about the current situation in Gaza.

The book starts with an earlier Chomsky interview highlighting possible outcomes of the Palestine situation, the use of boycott and divestment, and, as always, the important role that the U.S. plays in supporting Israel. The “crushing of the Palestinian and other violent crimes are possible only because the Untied States provides [Israel] with unprecedented economic, military, diplomatic and ideological support.”

That leads into a brief summary of U.S. involvement in the Palestine question, not in an historical date by date, event by event presentation (which is readily available in other works). Instead it highlights five positions, five general attitudes that have helped create today’s situation: Christian Zionism, the conversion from pro-Arabism to Zionism in view of the King-Crane commission; the creations and advancement of the pro-Israel lobby within the U.S.; the dominance of the five sisters (the big oil companies); and finally, the true nature of the peace process as it allows Israeli colonialism in Palestine.

The third chapter deals with the nakba, an essential background topic on any discussion on Palestine. Chomsky and Pappe focus, again, not on the historical events and a blow by blow account, but look at the broader picture and how it is utilized in context with overall Palestinian/Israeli relationships. The current peace negotiations focus on the 1967 ‘green line’, the demarcation between what Israel conquered after the UN Partition plan was rejected. Part of the reason for highlighting the 1967 date is that for the Israelis it allows them to conceal the events of the nakba, the ethnic cleansing that occurred in many parts of the territory they conquered. This serves the ‘heroic’ narrative that is part of the collective denial of the ethnic cleansing which occurred during the 1947-48 war (and continued well after). The stilted nature of the peace process is then limited to actions after 1967 – mainly the settlement process and the subjugation of the now ‘enclaved’ Palestinian people whereas otherwise it would necessarily include the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of Palestinian towns and the recognition of the internationally accepted right of return for persons displaced by war.

In following discussion on Israel violence towards Gaza, the United States plays a central role in all Israel actions. Whether supplying direct military aid, testing new weapons and security control systems, supplying direct financial aid, or providing diplomatic and political support at the UN and other organizations, the U.S. has been a tacit partner in all Israeli actions. Beyond that is the recognition that violence is the only answer that Israel has allowed. Following on the denial of their own violent actions, by creating the narrative/myth of the heroic nature of their actions and the demonization of the other, violence becomes the norm and accepted manner (in Israel at least) of murdering a nation. At only one point did I question the authors, from a one liner saying “It is particularly odd that such a belief [in the efficacy of violence] should be held in the United States.” This slip – as I hope it is – denies the U.S.’ historical legacy of using violence in all its ambitions of empire and control throughout the world, and it current cultural context of violence represented in much of the media.

The issue of what will be the final outcome of all this is represented in two discussions, one on a “Blueprint for a One-State Movement: A Troubled History,” the other on “The Ghettoization of Palestine.” Both discussion intersect on the overall goal of Israel, the complete “control of Mandatory Palestine.” The latter section emphasizes the current process of creating ever decreasing territories divided into bantustans or ghettos that are completely subordinate to Israeli rule. In the case of Gaza that becomes essentially a large open air prison containing a million and a half Palestinians in a state of suspended livelihood.

An excellent summary of the Israeli ethos of violence towards Gaza is summarized effectively in “The Killing Fields of Gaza 2004- 2009.” The Israeli policy makers have resorted to using “brutal military power as a short-term reaction to a problem they had no idea how to solve politically.” From First Rains, to Summer Rains, then Autumn Clouds, and finally the overwhelming brutality of “Cast Lead,” the attacks on Gaza stem from military humiliation in their actions against Lebanon and the capture of one Israeli soldier, frustration at being able to find – or want to find – a peaceful alternative, and the lack of a clear policy, although the latter may well be a smokescreen as much as the ‘peace process’ has served for the settlements. The whole population has been demonized, women and children included, based on the Israeli narrative of its moral superiority and right to all Palestinian lands. At first presented as part of the global war against the “World Jihad” the warrior stance has been refined to seeing Gaza as a terrorist base intent on destroying Israel. The use of such highly disproportionate firepower and the genocide of civilians in the attack revealed the “nature of the military operations …[as] an Israeli military wish to experiment with new weapons, all intended to kill civilians as part of…the need to brand in the Palestinian consciousness the fearsome might of the Israeli army.”

A new world paradigm?

The recent revelations of the Palestine papers demonstrated how much the Palestinian Authority would give up to Israel – much more than any Palestinian could reasonably be expected to allow, given the public face of the PA negotiators stance. That discussion will obviously follow on this work, and may change the image if not the actions of the PA in its acquiescence to the Israeli demands and wishes to the point of almost full capitulation. The PA struggle for survival and validity arrives at the same time as another larger event that carries greater significance for the region as a whole.

Egypt is mentioned several times through this work, always in a highly negative manner, although the topic is not developed beyond those mentions. When discussing the attacks on Gaza where “the Arabs are finding a way to do nothing as the Israelis slaughter Palestinian children,” the authors say of Egypt, “Perhaps the most shameful of the Arab regimes is the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, the beneficiary of the most U.S. military aid, apart from Israel.” Later, while discussing the policies in relation to the attacks on Gaza, its absolute control of the area, and its overall determination to “separate Gaza from the West Bank,” the authors indicate “These are only the bare outlines of very ugly policies, in which Egypt is complicit as well.” Finally while discussing the possibilities of peace n relationship to the new Obama government, the authors cite Obama’s words in relation to Mubarak as a “force for stability and good,” and a “stalwart ally, in many respects, to the United States.” From Obama’s words and actions it is seen that “support for democracy, and for human rights as well,” co-relates “closely with strategic and economic objectives….Obama’s yearning for human rights and democracy [is] a joke in bad taste.”

As with all books examining current events, timing is critical for certain discussions.

I look forward to a second volume that incorporates information and its impact and relevance concerning these two topics touched on in this work: the events and ramifications surrounding the Palestine Papers and the negotiations between the PA and Israel as revealed by al-Jazeera; and the events and ramifications of the Egyptian revolution again as witnessed primarily by al-Jazeera, but also by many others tuned into the internet for both news and the social networks that supported the revolution.

Both situations remain highly flexible, and there will be much in the way of the elites struggling to remain within the flow of influence, money, and whatever power they are allocated by their ‘superiors.’ A second edition of the current excellent work, with additional chapters relating to these topics would be well worth the effort.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

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Gaza in Crisis – Book Review.